Are Silk Amino Acids The Next Big Anti-Aging Ingredient? - The Dermatology Review

Are Silk Amino Acids The Next Big Anti-Aging Ingredient?

ARTICLE

02.01.21 AD DISCLOSURE

What Are Silk Amino Acids?

Silk amino acids are used in skincare and hair care products to support the strength of the skin and hair, helping to improve the moisture content and protect from damage.

Silk amino acids are derived from the cocoon of the silkworm. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. As amino acids are smaller and lighter than the proteins in silk, they are more readily absorbed through the skin.

Silk proteins such as sericin or fibroin, contain a number of amino acids but are particularly high in glycine, alanine and serine. Sericin and fibroin are responsible for the strength of the filaments of silk.

The amino acids are obtained by boiling the silk cocoons, this allows the silk and the amino acids to be separated from each other. The amino acids are then made into a powder or liquid to be used in your skincare or haircare formulations.

Silk Amino Acids

the good: Using silk amino acid-containing products may help to support keratin health in the skin and hair, preventing moisture loss and damage. Maintaining the health and strength of the skin may help to reduce the visible appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

the not so good: Like any ingredient, it can cause allergies for some people.

Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: Nothing to keep an eye on here.

What Are The Benefits of Silk Amino Acids?

The main benefits of silk amino acids are the strength and moisturization of the hair and skin. Both supporting the strength of the skin and hair as well as the moisture content helps to improve the appearance of the hair and may reduce the visible fine lines and wrinkles on the skin. 

Moisture 
Some of the amino acids found in silk are able to absorb and retain water. As the skin and hair requires water for healthy functioning, the use of the amino acids in the skincare context may help to improve the skin and hair’s water content. 

In a recent study, the use of sericin in cosmetic formulations such as moisturizers and shampoos suggested an increase in hydration, elasticity, and anti-aging effects. This is likely due to some of the silk amino acids having a large capacity to absorb and retain water. 

Collagen
There has been some research to suggest that silk amino acids may be small enough to absrorb into the top layers of the skin and into the dermis. This research has suggested that the amino acids may help to support the production of collagen, the fibers responsible for the structure and plumpness of the skin. 

Barrier
Silk-containing products are known for their ability to support a healthy barrier on the skin, protecting the skin from damage and dehydration. However, this benefit should be attributed to the silk proteins, sericin and fibroin rather than the amino acids.

 Silk proteins are thought to bond with the keratin in the skin, reducing moisture loss from the skin. Moisture loss, or transepidermal water loss, occurs when the skin loses water to the surrounding air. This is more likely to happen if your skin is damaged, sensitized, or aging. As we age we lose the ability to maintain a normal moisture balance in the skin. This is part of the reason the aging process leaves the skin looking dehydrated and dull. 

In the review of the research into silk products, one study suggested that sericin increase hydration in human skin, reducing roughness and improving the water content on the skin. The authors of that study suggested that sericin has a similar structure to filaggrin, a protein that plays a role in the structure and integrity of the skin. Fillagrin also plays a significant role in the hydration levels of the skin. This similarity in structure may be why sericin has an impact on the hydration of the skin.

Other uses
Silk products, other than the topical applications mentioned above, are also gaining popularity in the skincare world. Silk pillowcases, hair wraps, scrunchies, and eye masks have all become popular accessories in order to reduce friction and damage to the hair and skin. 

Are Silk Amino Acids Safe?

While silk amino acid and protein products are relatively new ingredients in the context of contemporary skincare, they are generally considered to be safe.  The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, a group responsible for evaluating the safety of skincare and cosmetic ingredients has reviewed the research on silk amino acids, proteins, and other silk-containing products. The Expert Panel concluded that silk products are safe in their current uses and in the current concentrations in which they’re used.

References:
Kunz RI, Brancalhão RM, Ribeiro LF, Natali MR. Silkworm Sericin: Properties and Biomedical Applications. Biomed Res Int. 2016;2016:8175701.

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